Notes: Platoon situation a hot topic

Notes: Platoon situation a hot topic

MILWAUKEE -- It did not take long for the Brewers' left-field and third-base platoons to come into play.

Left fielder Kevin Mench and third baseman Tony Graffanino -- both right-handed hitters -- got the start Tuesday against Dodgers left-hander Randy Wolf. Against right-hander Derek Lowe the day before, Geoff Jenkins and Craig Counsell -- both left-handed hitters -- were in the lineup.

The situation in left field has been a hot topic since the start of Spring Training, when both Jenkins and Mench said they were not interested in sharing playing time. Seven weeks later little has changed, and manager Ned Yost still doesn't get the hubbub.

"It's not that big a deal," Yost said. "I don't know why everybody wants to make it a big deal. ... Our guys understand it. They know what's going on."

Yost's plan calls for Bill Hall to make the majority of starts in center field and Corey Hart in right. Jenkins and Mench will share duties in left field, and Mench also could spell Hart from time to time. Gabe Gross and Tony Gwynn will play mostly off the bench.

"Gross and Tony Gwynn will get their at-bats when they can," Yost said. "The majority of time is going to revolve around those four guys. It's my job to make sure they all get their at-bats and they're all competitive and they're all playing."

But as recently as last week, Mench told, "I still don't know what is going on here." Jenkins was more measured, saying, "You just have to go and do your job when you are asked to."

Mench toned down his comments the following day in a newspaper report.

Yost has insisted that left field and third base will not be straight, right-left platoons. He bristled at reporters' questions about who will play and when.

"You guys want me to nail everything down," he said. "Why don't I just write it all down in stone? I don't even need to be here. What do I need to be here for if everything is righty-lefty?

"That's not the way it works. You match up every day, and decide which is going to give us the best opportunity to win today, and you go with it."

Feeling all right: Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy admitted he was a bit knock-kneed in his first at-bat on Opening Day, but at least the problem wasn't his ankle.

Hardy officially returned from ankle surgery in a big way on Monday, going 3-for-4 and making a slick defensive play in the Brewers' 7-1 win over the Dodgers. Afterward, his spirits were high and his ankle felt fine.

"The whole Spring Training was for that, getting used to what my ankle was going to feel like," Hardy said. "It feels 100 percent. I don't even think about it out there, which is good."

That was good news to the Brewers, who decided to move Hall, Hardy's able replacement from last May 17 through the end of the season, to center field. The team wanted both players in the lineup, and figured with the 24-year-old Hardy at short and 23-year-old prospect Ryan Braun nearly ready to take over at third base, the best place for Hall was the outfield.

Step 1 was convincing Hall to embrace the change. Step 2 was getting a healthy Hardy back on the field. So far, so good.

"J.J.'s always been a great defender," Hall said. "We've all known that. He's had a little injury problem, but hopefully that's in the past and he can be the impact player everyone thinks he can be."

No deal: Yost chuckled when he was told the Dodgers changed their signs prior to the series, worried that Elmer Dessens would pass on their secrets to his new teammates. The Brewers acquired Dessens from the Dodgers in a March 26 trade for outfielder Brady Clark, and Milwaukee didn't finalize its signs until March 29.

"I'm glad they changed them, because the first thing I did was ask Elmer about the signs and he couldn't remember them," Yost said with a smile.

On deck: Brewers newcomer Jeff Suppan, who signed a franchise-record free agent contract during the offseason, will make his debut Wednesday night against the Dodgers and right-hander Jason Schmidt. The Brewers will be debuting their "Walk-off Wednesdays" promotion.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.